Legal Reform Initiative

Overall goal
The goal of the initiative is to work on improving the election legislation, electoral processes and overcoming electoral irregularities.

Specific objectives

  • Forming and coordinating roundtables and working groups;
  • Preparation of Draft Election Code and its final draft;
  • Enacting the Draft Election Code through intensified lobbying;
  • Working on amendments and commentary to the Electoral Code.

Achievements
In 2004 a memorandum with the Ministry of Justice was signed. Four round tables were organized on which domestic and international experts, representatives of all political parties and relevant state institutions related to elections were invited. The aim of the round tables was to initiate a public debate and detect all problematic issues and weaknesses of the election process. After that, a working group was established with an aim to issue recommendations for improvement of the election legislation based on the reports from the public debates.

In 2005, a working group was formed, consisting representatives from all State institutions involved in the Elections (Ministry of Justice, State Election Commission, State Statistical Agency, State Audit Agency, Supreme Court etc), representatives of all parliamentary parties, NGOs and experts. The working group prepared the Draft Election Code. After that, 3 public hearings were organized in order to include input from various stakeholders. The working group prepared the final draft, considering the recommendations from the public hearings. In the end, the Parliament enacted the Election Code in March 2006.

In 2007 MOST continued its work in the field of legal reforms. An agreement was signed between MOST, Ministry of Justice and OSCE. Workshops on three separate topics were organized. The topics were: State Election Commission, election irregularities and financing of election campaigns. After that, a working group was created consisting of: MPs, representatives from relevant state institutions, representative of MOST, representative from the OSCE Spillover Mission in Skopje and 2 local experts. The working group prepared amendments to the Electoral Code, and some of them were adopted by the Parliament in October, 2008.

In 2009, MOST facilitated a working group consisting of 3 local and 1 international expert which prepared a Commentary to the Election Code, a first of its kind publication in Macedonia. The commentary included recommendations from international organizations related to elections, as well as recommendations from OSCE and MOST aimed at further improving of the election legislation.

During 2009 and 2010 MOST was part of the working groups organized by the Secretariat for European Integration of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia with the aim of preparing new amendments to the Electoral Code in accordance with the recommendations by the EU, after the problematic elections in 2008 and the elections in 2009. In these working groups MOST was the only participant from the civil society, equal with all other represented institutions. The last amendments of the Electoral Code were introduced in April 2011.

Key achievements:

  • Improved election legislation (Election Code) compatible with international election standards and good practices,
  • Published Commentary of the Election Code,
  • Improved quality of the elections,
  • Strengthened institutional capacity and strengthened capacity for EU integration

This project was funded by Norwegian People’s Aid, Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (SHC), Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) and Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

It is the view of the Citizens Association MOST, as an election monitoring organization, that the negotiations for election process must take into account the international standards and the comparative experience regarding the elections. Therefore, the Citizens Association MOST has prepared recommendations for election process reform.

The document has been prepared on the basis of MOST’s 13-year experience in election monitoring, both in the Republic of Macedonia (RM) and abroad – as part of election observation missions of OSCE/ODIHR and ENEMO, as well as through capacity building of civil society organizations for domestic monitoring of elections.

The document is divided in chapters that provide a chronology of the election process. Each chapter contains brief description of the positive legal provisions for the respective area, chronology and analysis of their implementation, as well as recommendations, possible solutions and alternatives for the identified challenges and problems. The recommendations integrate international standards and comparative experience regarding the elections.

The recommendations contained in this document refer to the most critical aspects of the election process, such as the election system, the out-of-country-voting, the State Election Commission, the Voters List, the election campaign and its financing, and the protection of the right to vote. They should not be seen as a replacement of the recommendations contained in MOST’s reports about the elections – instead, they are meant to be read complementarily with them. Some of them are part of the negotiation process between the political parties, while some of them are long-standing MOST’s commitments for which the political parties should reach consensus.

We hope that this document will also inspire the other stakeholders to present their ideas for reform in a wider debate, as well as serve to the political parties as a resource in setting the foundations for an election process that is highly trusted. However, it must be noted that there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions. That is why the design of the solutions must take into account the specifics of the RM and its political system, the needs of its citizens, as well as the political culture.

It is our long-term aspiration that we will finally start to build a sustainable system that will increasingly take into account the interest of the institutions, the processes and the citizens.

As it was the case before, MOST is available to all the participants in this process for further analyses and debates regarding all election-related issues.

Citizen’s Association MOST continuous with the realization of the project “Legal reform initiative”. In the frames of this project, the fourth round table on Law on referendum and citizens’ initiative was held. On this round table, once again, experts from the Faculty of Law from Skopje, together with some MPs, representatives from the Ministry of justice, SEC and the NGO sector, provided recommendations for alterations of the Law on referendum and citizens’ initiative. The initiative for supplementation of this Law came out of the need to supplement and specify its provisions, in order to avoid the omissions noticed at the referendum voting on the 7th November. The fourth round table on “Reform of the election legislation” took place in the hotel “Jadran” on the 13th December.

The work group for creating the recommendations in the field of referendum was consisted of the professors from the Faculty of Law: Tanja Karakamiseva and Renata Trenevska – Deskoska and the people’s representatives: Cvetanka Ivanova, Blagoja Stojanoski, Talat Dzaferi and Zoran Sapuric.

 

After the two successful round tables, Citizen’s association MOST, under the project “Legal reform initiative”, continues with its efforts to make appropriate changes in the Macedonian electoral legislation. The third round table was held on 18th October in Skopje. Working group for the third round table will be consisted of: Professor Renata Trenevska-Deskoska; Professor Tatjana Karakamiseva; Mrs. Cvetanka Ivanova (MP and president of the Legislative Committee); Mr. Blagoja Stojanoski (MP and president of the Committee on the political system and inter ethnic relations); Mr. Zoran Shapurik (MP) and Mr. Talat Dzaferi (MP). This round table was dedicated to the financing of electoral campaign. Every democratic state faces the problem of financing the electoral campaign. Illegal practices in the manner of the financing the campaign, as well as the lack of transparency are widespread problems in almost every country. Therefore, Republic of Macedonia is trying to resolve these problems, in order to have better transparency and grater control over the financing of the campaigns.

As a part of the “Legal reform initiative” project, Citizen’s association MOST continues with the efforts to change the electoral legislation. Second round table was held on 3 September 2004 in the hall of Hotel “Jadran”. MOST’s working group for the second round table consisted of proffesors at the Law faculty in Skopje: Renata Trenevska-Deskoska and Tanja Karakamisheva, together with the MPs: Mr.Zoran Shapurik, Mrs.Cvetanka Ivanova , Mr.Blagoja Stojanoski and Mr.Talat Dzaferi.

Together with the experts and members of the Parliament, number of representatives of the local and international NGOs, as well as representatives from the Ministry of justice, contributed in the second round table. Number of recommendations came out of this round table.

As a part of Transparency and Accountability program, MOST started the project Legal reform initiative.

Aim of the project

– improvement of Macedonian legislation, mostly the electoral legislation which has the most deficiencies.

– providing of fair and free elections.

Goal of the project is to organize round tables on which recommendations will be formulated. Furthermore, the recommendations are expected to lead to changes in the laws, changes that will lead to closer integration of Republic Macedonia in the European Union.

Planed activities

Four expert round tables are planed in order to get constructive recommendations  for changes in certain law provisions. On those round tables, experts from Law faculty in Skopje, members of the Parliament, together with representatives from relevant NGOs, Ministry of justice, as well as the President of the State Electoral Commission, will try to find the best solution for changes in the electoral legislation.

The first round table was held on 29th of July in the hall of “MP’s Club” in Skopje. MOST working group for the first round table consisted of: Professor Gorge Ivanov,

 Professor Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, Professor Renata Trenevska-Deskoska; Mrs. Cvetanka Ivanova (MP), Mr. Blagoja Stojanoski (MP), Mr. Talat Dzaferi (MP), Mr. Stevo Pendarovski (President of the State Electoral Commission), Mrs. Zagorka Tnokovska (Ministry of justice), and Mrs. Julijana Georgieva (Ministry of justice), came out with recommendations for changes in the laws.

recommendations>>>

The goal of the second pubic debate that was organized by MOST was to provide transparency of the entire process of enacting the Electoral code. The Electoral code is in parliamentary procedure, and in a phase before the second reading. As an issue which will contribute towards creating environment for fair and democratic Parliamentary elections 2006, a wide political debate was opened among the political parties. On the second public debate, the representatives of the political parties and experts discussed on questions that were still opened: Appointment and composition of election bodies, definition and financing of election campaign and penalties against the violators of election regulations. The recommendations and opinions stressed by the participants will be taken into consideration during the process of drafting the final version of the Electoral code, which is to be enacted by the Parliament of R Macedonia. Representatives of the International community attended this public debate as well.

The first public debate took place on 22.11.2005 right before drafting the proposal of the Electoral code by the Ministry of justice. The first public debate was conducted in a way to allow great number of participants to stress their opinions and recommendations on the working version of the Electoral code. The discussion was conducted and divided into three groups: Experts and institutions, Citizens’ associations and media, Non parliamentarian political parities. The members of the work group were present all day long in order to hear the opinions and views of the invited participants. At the end of each section, there was time for discussion to take place. The public debate was attended by representatives of the international community. 25 recommendations of total number were inserted in the Electoral code proposal which was submitted to the Government of R Macedonia by the Ministry of Justice.